Classical Numismatics Discussion
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Die creation: are Legends and Portraits carved by different mint workers? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Die creation: are Legends and Portraits carved by different mint workers?  (Read 273 times)
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« on: April 13, 2019, 09:21:52 pm »

I am a new collector and I posted this coin on another forum some time ago - I was confused by the "reversed" SC on the coin. The reverse legend also starts at the 2 o'clock mark which did not match the other coins I was looking at. It was pointed out to me (I certainly did not have the experience to make the determination) that perhaps a different worker cut the legends than the worker that cut the Temple of Janus... and mistakenly inverted the legend in relation to the Temple.

I know this is a rough coin in general.. but I was wondering what the experienced collectors here thought of this.
Does this explanation seem correct? (it certainly makes sense to me) ... if so are there other examples that would show this as something that happened from time to time? Was the practice of using different artists create different parts of dies the norm at most mints?

Inverting the coin - as below, shows the "SC" and the legend in the correct alignment.

Nero. A.D. 54-68. Æ as. 9.7 gm. 28 mm. Rome mint. Struck circa A.D. 67.
His laureate head right; IMP NERO CAESAR AVG GERM /
The Temple of Janus, garland hung across closed doors to left, latticed windows on right;
PACE P R VBIQ PARTA IANVM CLVSIT around; S C to either side. Sear 689.
Joe Sermarini
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2019, 09:31:03 pm »

Interesting coin. I believe it was normal for legends to be engraved by different people than the designs. This coin certainly supports that as likely when its dies were engraved.

Joseph Sermarini
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 03:05:52 pm »

I would say that the reason the legend on your coin was engraved upside down was that the type is basically just a large rectangle, which looks pretty much the same upside down as right side up. So it was easy for the engraver to confuse the top of the type with the bottom when it came to adding the legend.

Another example of the same error for the same reason: the CONSECRATIO denarius of Diva Faustina II with Altar reverse shown below, which I described as follows in Gemini XI, 12 Jan. 2014, lot 452:  

Obv: DIVA FAV - STINA PIA Bust draped right. Rx: CONSECRA - TIO, beginning at 2 o'clock and ending at 10 o'clock; Altar enclosure with base, central door, and volutes left and right on top. The reverse legend was meant to start at 8 o'clock and end at 4 o'clock, but the engraver confused the top and bottom of the altar and engraved the legend upside down. If the reverse is turned as in the picture below so that the legend is correctly aligned, then the altar is upside down. Legend error of BM 725, Cohen 75, and RIC 746. Possibly unpublished, though C. Clay knows another example of this error, from the same reverse die, in a private collection.

However, I don't think that these mistakes reliably suggest different engravers for the legends than for the types! It would be just as understandable if one and the same engraver engraved the type, then got its orientation wrong when he undertook to add the legend.

I regard it as certain that, in general, types were engraved before legends, because the letters of the legends often leave spaces for elements of the types, which therefore must already have been there when the legends were added. It is most unlikely that engravers were instructed to engrave the legend first, leaving spaces for elements of the types which could be anticipated to interrupt the legend near the edge of the design, rather than the opposite procedure, types first, legends where they fit, which was so much easier, and would lead to so many fewer type-legend conflicts and misfits. This point was convincingly argued by Hans-Markus von Kaenel in his monograph on the coinage of Claudius I.

Were there different engravers for types and legends? Perhaps deductions can be drawn from the titles of the personnel named in the Trajanic mint inscriptions, concerning which I recently read an interesting analysis, but I can't remember where. It might also be relevant if we know from surviving documentation whether early modern mints employed the same or different engravers for types and legends.

Curtis Clay
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Die creation: are Legends and Portraits carved by different mint workers? « previous next »
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